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by Ollie Cowan (July 2017)

A GOLF fan from Southport who predicted the meteoric rise of resort golfer Tommy Fleetwood is furious after a town centre bookmakers refused to honour a bet he made with them.

John Murray, a keen golfing enthusiast, first noted in 2007 what a promising young golfer Fleetwood was when he was aged just 15.

He enquired with high street bookmakers William Hill about the odds for him winning an ‘open championship’ competition before the end of 2017.

William Hill obliged and gave him odds of 66/1, after which Mr Murray placed a £500 bet and duly kept his betting slip safe.

However following Fleetwood’s impressive French Open win earlier this year, William Hill have refused to pay out, saying the slip actually refers to an official Open – one that could only take place in the United Kingdom. Mr Murray has now sought legal advice and is taking the bookmakers to task over the issue.

The Independent Betting Adjudication Service have sided with William Hill over the matter but legal representatives for Mr Murray say William Hill should honour the bet.

Mr Murray’s legal firm told the Champion: “In 2007 Mr Murray and an associate discussed the possibility of a promising young golfer Mr Tommy Fleetwood, then 15 years of age, turning professional.

“They agreed that Mr Fleetwood, whilst young in age, was an exceptional golfer and went on to wonder what the odds would be of Mr Fleetwood turning professional and go on to win an open golf

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championship. To that end they wrote to William Hill in October 2007 and asked for ‘the odds for [Mr Fleetwood] turning professional and going on to win an open championship on the PGA Tour.

“The bet was in respect of an open golf championship – note the lower case ‘an’ and ‘open’ - and not The Open Championship.”

They added that Mr Murray placed his bet at the Southport William Hill branch after the manager got confirmation from head office that it could be accepted.

“A confirmation betting slip was supplied by William Hill, albeit erroneously referring to a golf ‘competition’ rather than ‘championship’.

“A few days later Mr Murray realised that the betting slip did not correspond exactly with the wording of William Hill’s letter so went back into the betting shop, and the manager, agreed to issue a new betting slip.

“Mr Fleetwood won the Kazakhstan Open in 2011, the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2017 and the French Open in 2017.

“Mr Murray has since presented his bet to William Hill who have refused to settle the bet.

“They argue that the bet was in respect of The Open Championship and not any other.

“Mr Murray argues that winning ‘an open golf championship’ referred to Mr Fleetwood attaining first place in any championship which was open to all pro golfers on the PGA Tour.

“He argues that William Hill should settle the bet and pay out the £33,500 return to which he is entitled to.

“It is important to note that the bet placed was Mr Fleetwood to win an open championship and not The British Open Championship or even The Open Championship.

“We accept the purists may argue there is only one Open Championship but this ignores the other open golf championships on the PGA Tour.

“From a legal perspective this is a case which hinges upon interpretation of a contract. In our opinion, the wording of the bet is sufficiently clear that the bet was in respect of any open golf championship.

“Furthermore, to suggest that the odds of an unknown golfer, who was 15 years of age and who had yet to turn professional, winning The Open Golf Championship were only 66/1 is ludicrous even if it was over a 10 year period.

“We would argue that if the bet was in respect of The British Open that the odds would have been a lot higher.”

A spokesperson for William Hill said: “Our lawyers are replying to Mr Murray’s complaint and as this is an ongoing matter, we cannot comment any further at this time.”

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